Monday, June 29, 2009


Over the last couple of weeks I was visiting customers internationally and I was surprised at how many customers are trying out . The reason they are trying Isilon is price, or at least that is what I was told. According to the customer comments I heard, NetApp seems to be pricing itself out of these high performance storage markets. Whether this is motivated by customer budget decisions or a NetApp international pricing policy I can't tell. But for whatever reason, Isilon has now got a foot in the door of the data centers I was visiting.

I was surprised not to see EMC and IBM making more headway into NetApp's international customer base, since Isilon is. In times of economic turmoil I would expect customers to go to the safety of a major brand, but if price is the major motivator of these decisions, Isilon may be buying customer loyalty. The installations are too recent to have meaningful long term reliability results.

I don't run into Isilon very often in the US and Canada, so it might be that Isilon is targeting NetApp's international customers. Or it could just be coincidence, and there is no correlation at all.

Sometimes technology markets work in mysterious ways, and the storage market is currently reinforcing its reputation.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Over the last couple of weeks I have been traveling to visit customers in many locations. Can you guess where I was last week from the picture?

Our domestic and international customers are looking at how to squeeze more out of their IT budgets and have been asking us to provide support for other parts of their networks. We are reviewing their requests and looking at whether we can provide high availability support for more of our customers' network components.

Providing outstanding High Availability support is challenging, although we must be doing a good job as our customers are requesting us to take over support for additional hardware within their networks.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A very good article

Often the trade press is filled with regurgitated press releases which don't give a very good analysis of the companies and strategies that are winning customers and markets. But I just read a very good article that I would suggest you read.

NetApp has been losing both mind and market share to the more aggressive EMC, which has partnered with Cisco. With Oracle having acquired Sun (and with it, Sun’s storage business) and HP expected to start building its own storage systems, there are few takers for NetApp. As a result, the company’s only option was to start buying up smaller but fast-growing players such as Data Domain. For the longest time the knock on NetApp was that it wasn’t able to buy and digest companies, as best evidenced by its struggles with its Decru and Spinnaker acquisitions. Now it’s being straight-up outbid by EMC, which is offering cash. EMC, sensing blood, wants to run NetApp out of town.

Our business is growing in the tough economy because individuals and the market are recognizing that there is value in maintaining their reliable legacy equipment. The battle for Data Domain may be a harbinger of things to come. But my crystal ball on this subject remains cloudy.

But as budgets remain tight, I expect more companies to ask for lower cost service and support for their enterprise storage systems.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Growing in a shrinking market

According to many analysts the enterprise storage market has been shrinking and NetApp and EMC are slugging it out for market share.

The NAS (network attached storage) market declined 6.7 percent year over year, led by EMC with 39.0 percent revenue share and followed by NetApp with 28.7 percent share.

Coincidentally, we are seeing growth in our service and support business this year, as companies look to save on maintenance and extend the lifespan of their legacy equipment. Extending the time between upgrades is one way to get more value out of your storage infrastructure, another way is to manage your storage resources better.

Creating a plan by which you can consolidate your existing storage, and reduce service and support expenses can stretch your budget dollars. That is why more companies are coming to Zerowait and asking us to provide them a free storage analysis and quote on their current storage infrastructure support. Superseded High availability storage equipment can still provide many years of service to most organizations for a fraction of the price of an upgrade.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Courting Data Domain

Data Domain may be the most popular company in the Storage niche in the last few days. In hard economic times it pays for customers to want to save money by increasing their storage efficiency and de-duplication makes a lot of sense if a customer can see real cost savings.

As a larger company with more large storage customers, EMC has a bigger market than NetApp does within its existing customer base. And they may be able to use DD to help their customers save money by reducing their storage requirements. Also, since many DD customers are also NetApp customers it gets EMC into the door of existing NetApp accounts.

EMC seems to have a better history of integrating companies than NetApp does, and so from a customer and employee point of view folks may want to see EMC win this battle.

During a late Monday afternoon press conference, EMC CEO Joe Tucci promised that his company would run Data Domain as a product division within EMC, and would increase its R&D investment in Data Domain technology. "We look forward to giving the Data Domain employees a warm and heartfelt welcome into the EMC family. I would like to remind everyone EMC has a good track record of integrating companies, retaining and growing key talent and achieving results," Tucci said. The CEO didn't mention the less-than-stellar integration of VMware Inc. technology into EMC, though to be fair, that acquisition has been a financial success so far.

On the other hand, NetApp does not have a good track record with at least some of its acquisitions, notably the Spinnaker Corp. deal in 2003 and the acquisition of Decru Inc. in 2006. Both companies went through a very rocky integration road with NetApp. "I do happen to believe that NetApp does acquisitions miserably," said Arun Taneja, founder and president of the research firm, Taneja Group Inc.

De-duplication is another patch on the storage resource management problem. Storage is growing and as it grows it gets more complex to manage, de-duplication shrinks the footprint but adds another layer of management.

De-duplication is not the answer to the storage resource management problem.